Thursday, October 3, 2013

HHA resident recounts intimidation and death threats due to Vision 20/20

Jessica Coco recounts death threats  "Bloods" gang members "under review" and numerous break-ins and harassment

In a first person account, long time resident Jessica Coco recounted in detail the harassment, intimidation and death threats she's faced due to the belief she was part of a group of Hoboken Housing Authority residents opposing Carmelo Garcia's Vision 20/20 plan.

Here's the complete unedited live remarks made in the City Council:

Here are the prepared remarks:

Thank you Council President. My name is Jessica Coco. I’m a long-time Hoboken resident, a graduate from Wallace and Hoboken High School. Some have read about my recent challenges as a resident.
At the previous meeting here, the council touched upon the subject of HHA residents who live in fear, in fear of retribution for speaking out against those who hold power over us. I appreciate that a Councilman like David Mello spoke with HHA residents about this fear. This shows he cares in the well-being of the HHA residents; something seriously lacking for a long time.  Politicians in general only care about us during election time, then they forget about us.
In this regard, I’m here to offer my personal account in the HHA.  Over the last few months, I’ve been subjected to a barrage of harassment, faced repeated incidents of vandalism to my car, repeated break-ins and burglarization of my home and death threats which are currently under review.  
It’s difficult to convey how one feels when the sanctity of your home and person is repeatedly violated. In repeated break-ins, the lock to my door was damaged, the chain broken and I was unable to leave without someone overseeing my apartment while I went out.
Recently, as I was driving into the HHA parking lot, a young African American man approached, made a gun gesture with his hand and told me, “You’re dead bitch. Bloods rule.”  Can you imagine being told this by a gang member outside your home? Worse is the feeling that you’re not even safe in your home, because it’s obvious these thugs have been allowed access to my apartment at will.
Mr. Carmelo Garcia, our landlord, says he’s not responsible nor his employees at the HHA - for any of these systematic crimes. However, related to all these incidents is one where I was refused a renewal lease since last year, which is illegal under federal law. It was a member of Carmelo Garcia’s staff that came to my door to serve me with eviction papers on in August.
This Carmelo Garcia employee came to my door and she demanded I sign a document or I would be evicted immediately right then and there. Since I knew she could not legally evict me immediately, I refused to sign saying unless I read the paperwork. She never handed me the complete documents. I was expected to read them while she held them up on the otherside of my door, with the chain on.  I do not know if the paper she wanted me to sign was the same one as she would allow me to read with a flashlight, however, the paper I saw in front of me clearly read “Notice of Eviction” and it had several options. It said, “I take sole responsibility for putting up all the lying and malicious flyers posted in the HHA.”  I refused to sign it as I had nothing to do with those flyers. When I went to the office two days later to demand a copy of the Notice of Eviction, it was replaced with a Cease & Desist letter signed by Charles Daglian on official HHA letterhead. Who attempts to evict someone over their freedom of speech?
And the reason for all this is quite evident.  It was all due to suspicion I was against Vision 20/20, although at the time I was actually occupied with issues of my health.
Hoboken is now being asked to accept a plan based solely on the word of Carmelo Garcia and his presentation around town of an outdated 2010 brochure. Although he has repeatedly promised tenants they would receive a tenants bill of rights, I nor any resident have received anything within federal standards and I doubt we will.  It’s been over 3 years. If the city of Hoboken can’t even get a copy of a legal bonifide plan, what does that say? What is Carmelo Garcia hiding from all of us?

Prior to living in the HHA, I was a long-time resident of Applied Housing. I like many women in Applied suffered sexual harassment as a resident in the mid 1990’s. It was here that Hoboken was introduced to Carmelo Garcia. He was appointed by Applied to run to the tenant organization. And what was the result of his tenant “advocacy?”  The number of affordable units dropped from 90% to 20%.  Carmelo Garcia wasn’t a bystander, he was the instrument in making it happen yelling “Viva Applied” from the stage at mandated management directed rallies where he encouraged tenants to sign away their rights and drop a lawsuit protecting their affordable housing rights. These stories are well documented in the New York Times and even the Hudson Reporter. It led to thousands evicted; mainly families of Hispanic origin, just like Carmelo Garcia himself.  Is this someone any of us should trust?  The man with no legal tangible Vision 20/20 plan?
It had been my hope, the dark days I’ve seen would be relegated to the past, but instead I see it is alive in the present with some of the same players. I love Hoboken.  My roots, my memories as a young student are here and I’ve come to realize I have to overcome this intimidation to save my community and my home. No one is going to take my home away from me a 2nd time without a fight.
For those watching who wish to support the city’s most vulnerable residents, we certainly appreciate any support. We can be reached at 201-855-9732.
Thanks to all the great people of Hoboken who hear, listen and speak for those who are not able to speak and defend themselves.  Thank you for listening and thank you Council President.

Talking Ed Note: The next and last speaker, a Carmelito named Debra Morrissette who lives nowhere near Jessica Coco, slandered her declaring Coco "lived in a fantasy world."  She continued to toss one slanderous attack after another. 
MSV has incontrovertible proof and this will come to light at the proper time.
The truth is coming out and Debra Morrissette and her ilk will not stop justice.